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The Skinny on the Deadliest Skin Cancer

A skin cancer that targets pigment-producing skin cells, called melanocytes.

It’s rare, accounting for 1% of skin cancer diagnoses.

It’s deadly, accounting for the majority of skin cancer-related deaths.


There are four main types,
listed from most to least common:

1. Superficial spreading.

  • Skin-based tumor.
  • Presents as a mole that has:
  • Asymmetry

    Border irregularity

    Color that’s uneven

    Diameter greater than six millimeters

    Evolving characteristics

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2. Nodular

  • Red or flesh-colored lesions.

3. Lentigo maligna

  • Presents as age spots.
  • Typically arises in elderly patients due to sun exposure.

4. Acral lentiginous

  • Affects areas not exposed to the sun, like the palms of the hand or soles of the feet.
  • Often not identified early.

Treatment

Treatment options have drastically improved in the last two decades. Northwestern Medicine offers hope through leading-edge treatments.

Treatment depends on the stage of the melanoma and the patient. It could involve surgically removing affected areas or lymph nodes, or immunotherapy.

Risks

  • Melanoma is more common in Caucasians.
  • Your risk is higher if you have a family history of melanoma.
  • Excess exposure to UV rays increases your risk of melanoma.

Prevention

  • Be safe when exposed to UV rays.
  • See a dermatologist annually.
  • See a physician immediately if you notice changes in your skin or moles.

Find a Specialist

Jeffrey D. Wayne, MD
Nearest Location:
Rated 4.9
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235 Ratings
Professor, Feinberg School of Medicine
  • Primary Specialty Melanoma and Sarcoma Surgery
  • Secondary Specialty Surgical Oncology
Accepts New Patients
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